There is an art to buying fresh fruit. You just need to know what to look for, what it should smell like and how it should feel
by Aliona Avduhova
Modern supermarkets sell fruit from all over the world. In countries like the UK consumers are able to source fruit whatever the season imported from anywhere on the planet. Unfortunately, with this ever increasing variety and abundance of produce does not come an increase in quality. Often fruit sold in the shopping aisles is passed its best or picked before it has even had chance to ripen. How many times have you got home ready to tuck into the juicy piece of fruit only to find it is dry and tasteless?
There is an art to buying fresh fruit. You just need to know what to look for, what it should smell like and how it should feel. It’s time to start using those senses!
The first thing you should use when buying fruit is your eyes. Just looking out for some of these simple warning signs will help you identify fruit to steer clear of.
What to look for - fruit to avoid:
Bruised or cracked fruit may have been damaged in transit, wrinkles can be a sign of loss of water, and holes could indicate an insect has entered the fruit at some point.
It is a mistake to just judge a fruit by colour – there are many different varieties of fruit and lots of different colours. For example many oranges are green and simply only choosing oranges that look the brightest orange will not help you pick the best fruit.
Next is your sense is touch. Here are a few things to feel for when shopping for your five a day.
What to feel for – fruit to avoid:
- Fruit that is light for its size
- Too soft
- Too firm
It is not size per say that is the chief indicator of quality here, but more weight compared to size. The best fruit is juicy and heavy for its size. Avoid that big colourful orange that feels really light for its size. Give the fruit a squeeze. Avoid over ripe soft fruit that feels like it could be easily squashed. Likewise avoid fruit that is too firm and fells like you could use it to tile your kitchen floor with.
The much underused of all your supermarket organs! Your olfactory system is actually one of the best senses you have to recognise fruit at its best.
What to smell for:
- Doesn’t smell of anything - not ripe yet
- Smells too sweet or smells off then it – passed its best
Watch out for that malodorous mango or pongy plumb. Fruit that doesn’t smell of anything is as equally unappetising, if it doesn’t smell of anything it generally doesn’t taste of anything.
One thing to look out for when inspected your potential purchase is waxing. Waxing is often used by supermarkets to make fruit appear fresher than it actually is. Avoid waxed fruit if you are planning to use them for cooking or baking as it can adversely affect flavour.
There are some specific things to remember for specific fruits, so here is a handy checklist of some of the most popular fruits and what to look out for:
- Apples – Firm to touch, avoid soft apples. Look for bright colour for variety.
- Bananas – Fairly firm, avoid bruised fruit, should be slightly green turning yellow for longer shelf life.
- Cantaloupe Melons – Light aroma, slightly yellow skin.
- Oranges – Heavy for size are juicier. Choose oranges with a smooth skin.
- Pears – Softly press at stem end. Ripe pears will give slightly to pressure.
- Plums – Avoid hard or wrinkled plums. Ripe plums will give slightly to pressure.
by Aliona Avduhova 07 February 2011 Teatro Naturale International n. 2 Year 3